The possibility of tougher rules on immigration and citizenship has provoked “tremendous fear” and plummeting participation in publicly funded daycare programs and afterschool care, according to a federal memorandum the City of Chicago submitted Monday.
The Trump administration has proposed changes that would weigh participation in programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, or housing assistance when granting residency and citizenship.
The changes could be devastating, the Chicago memorandum warns.
They could affect 110,000 Chicago residents, according to the filing. One in three Chicago residents receives Medicaid benefits, which the proposed changes would affect.
Chicago and New York led a coalition of 30 cities that filed comments to the Department of Homeland Security over changes to the so-called “public charge” rule, which is used by immigration officials to decide who is allowed entry and permanent residency in the United States.
“History teaches that, given this choice, many immigrants will choose to forgo public aid, which will make them a sicker, poorer, and less secure community,” according to the City of Chicago’s comments. You can read the entire document below.
Already, the city said, a group called Gads Hill that operates child care centers in Pilsen and North Lawndale has struggled to enroll children because of families’ worries about the impending rules.
Another operator, Shining Star Youth and Community Services in South Chicago, saw families start to keep children home since the proposed changes were announced.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago told the city that participation in its after-school programming also has taken a hit, the filing said.
The changes to the proposed rule do not specifically mention Head Start or any of the publicly funded child care programs. But many families are fearful that participation in anything offered by the government — from child care to health care to even food programs — would bring them to the attention of immigration authorities.
Early childhood advocates shared similar concerns at a November meeting of the Early Learning Council, an influential group of policymakers who help set the state agenda for children ages birth to 5.
“Families are very confused about the changes,” Rocio Velazquez-Kato, an immigration policy analyst with the Latino Policy Forum, told the group. “They think that by enrolling in Head start or free and reduced-price lunch at school — that it will factor against them.”
Public comment on the proposed rule change was due Monday. The 60-day public comment period is required by law before the federal government delivers a final recommendation.